Senate panel advances funding for better public safety in Missoula County

Measure will help create consolidated emergency operations center in Missoula

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senator Jon Tester and his colleagues on the Senate Appropriations Committee have passed legislation that will improve public safety in one of Montana’s largest counties, Tester and Senator Max Baucus announced today.

The Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Act contains funding to allow Missoula County to combine into one facility its emergency dispatch center, the Sheriff’s office and a training center for law enforcement officers and first responders.

Michele Landquist, Chair of the Missoula County Board of Commissioners, says the funding will create jobs and streamline coordination among the area’s different emergency response agencies, improving public safety across Missoula County.

“This is great news for Missoula County because it will allow us to improve public safety throughout the county, and we appreciate Jon’s and Max’s efforts,” Landquist said. “In these tough economic times, this investment comes at a critical time to complete this project and strengthen our emergency operations.”

Under the current legislation, Missoula County would receive $771,000 to consolidate its emergency operations center into one facility in Missoula.  The legislation must first pass the full Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives before the funding can be signed into law.

“This is an important, long-term investment in the safety of people and property across Missoula County,” Tester said.  “The resources we invest in Montana’s law enforcement officers and firefighters will go a long way in keeping folks who live in and visit Big Sky Country safe.  This is smart funding that will ease the financial burden of hardworking folks in Missoula County.”

“This is welcome news to make Missoula County a better place to live, work and raise families,” Baucus said.  “This is about making sure emergency responders can communicate better, work together, and train together.  I’m proud of this funding and I look forward to going to bat for it as it makes its way through Congress.”

For a full list of funding for Montana under the Homeland Security Appropriations Act, click HERE.

What is an appropriations bill?
  • A federal appropriations bill funds the federal government.  12 appropriations bills will fund the federal government for the next Fiscal Year.
  • Less than one half of one percent of these appropriations bills consist of congressionally directed funding (also called “earmarks”).  This funding is not additional spending for the federal government, nor does it increase federal deficit.  Rather, it is a set of directions telling the government where it must use existing funds.
  • In the past, appropriations funding had been abused by anonymous requests with little transparency.
  • Since 2007, the process was overhauled to guarantee transparency and fair debate in Congress.
  • All of Tester’s and Baucus’ appropriations requests are online HERE and HERE.